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Topic: Bad flashback to music school.

  1. #1

    Bad flashback to music school.

    I'm sitting here on New Years Eve going through my brand-new copy of Garritan Personal Orchestra, going through all the instruments one at a time.

    At Belmont College in Nashville in the late 1980s, the Music Department and the music business department in the School of Business worked out a compromise for their students. To fulfill the science requirement, they forced the physics department to offer a class in acoustics, which all students must take.

    I got in the class and it was obvious that the professor did not want to teach the class and looked down on all the business and music students. I learned later that he was a metalurgist and total non-musician.

    The entire quarter's class consisted of learning facts from a book. There was not one note played, not one sound heard, in the entire length of the course. The students had nothing with which to reference anything they learned, unless it was from their own out-of-class experience. I asked the professor why he couldn't at least play us recordings of a square wave, a sawtooth wave, or a sine wave, to show us the difference, and he just grumbled something about the physics department not having sufficient resources to provide any sounds. I'm serious.

    My favorite part was when the professor showed us (in the textbook) a Fourier analysis of a krummhorn and remarked on what an interesting sounding instrument it was. Now I had actually heard a krummhorn, and when I quizzed him, it was apparent to me that he had not the faintest idea what one sounded like. He thought it sounded like a trumpet (it sounds like a kazoo).

    What a difference it would have made if we had Garritan Personal Orchestra and a programmable digital reverb on a laptop with a keyboard and speakers to play in class. Acoustics and Physics of Sound would actually come alive and mean something.

  2. #2

    Re: Bad flashback to music school.

    One would think they'd at least have oscilloscopes and frequency analyzers!

    Or even the magic of the electrostrobic instrument tuner!

    - m
    Free MFX and other plugins: http://www.TenCrazy.com/
    Markleford's music: http://www.markleford.com/music/

  3. #3

    Re: Bad flashback to music school.

    The fellow I studied acoustics with -- a theory professor I greatly respect to this day -- had never taught the subject, nor studied it, before he got stuck with the duty to teach the course... lol.

    And he said just that on day one of the course.

    It turned into one of the more interesting courses I've had. We all sat there trying to figure out the textbook together. And when the going got impenetrable, our theory instructor bravely waylaid physics professors, and dragged them into the class to get us all on track. He was merciless with them, too -- kept asking them what what they were saying had to do with music, and pumping them for real examples that would make some sense to us.

    In the end, I think we all came out with a solid knowledge of the subject (including the professor).

    Sometimes I guess it comes down less to what a teacher knows -- and far more to how dedicated he is to his mission to make learning happen.


  4. #4

    Re: Bad flashback to music school.

    While it's too late now, you could have cost him his tenure if you played it right - document, witnesses, take it to the regents - you paid the same for his time as the other students, and you damn well better get the same quality of time. Otherwise, talk to the football, wrestling or LaCrosse team, they might like to have some fun with the geek...

    I don't know - as I get older, I am just sick and tired of poor job performance and lack of care about the end result - just as the next generation of undereducated, clueless job-seekers go looking for entry-level CEO positions.

    Whenever possible, I will talk to: the clerk, then the manager, then the owner, and finally the owner's wife (that's where the change happens - when SHE gets on his case., things CHANGE!) Even if I don't have time to deal with it, I try to at least quickly notify whoever is in charge (or fill out a comment card if they have them.)

    The one thing I know for a fact is - entropy happens. If you complain, and I complain, and enough others, then MAYBE something will chnge. If you don't try to change it, it will NEVER change. If you accept poor service, that becomes the norm.
    It's all about the music - really. I keep telling myself that...

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    NW Illinois

    Re: Bad flashback to music school.

    I really enjoyed my acoustics class, but I don't remember acoustics being the focus of it. My teacher had invented an instrument which he called a Scale-a-tron (sp?). It was an organ with dual keyboards, that had programmable microtonality. I don't remember exactly, but it was capable of something like 37 keys per half step. It was facinating to hear him speak on this subject and have an oscilliscope there to visualize the sound waves for us.

    It's just a shame that college is right after high school. There was so much good information presented to us, but at that age I wasn't mature enough to absorb it all. That's my shortcoming.


  6. #6

    Re: Bad flashback to music school.

    Wow. That's so weird. At my ole alma mater, Western KY University, just one hour up the road from Belmont, it was wholly different. My acoustics class was great. He demonstrated all the different wave forms, gave useful instruction on the effect of different textured walls with regards to sound reflection, and even demostrated a really unique effect with a strobe and a tuning fork. We worked with an old sampling keyboard and generally looked forward to it every day. lol

    This guy was a physicist and had little or no musical background, but since most of his students were music students he seemed to really like us.

    I should mention that WKU is somewhat well known for it's science department. I seem to remember that none of my science classes there were boring because all of the professors were generally excited about what they do.

    Thanks for your story, you have given me something else in my past education to be grateful for.... if I could just remember it! lol
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

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